There’s been some strong conversation about a new Fleet Farm being built in West Bend at Highway 33 and County Highway Z.
There was a meeting recently with KKR, the new owners of Mills Fleet Farm, and managers in the organization and apparently the enthusiasm for a new Fleet in West Bend got “misconstrued” with what’s really going on according to Mike Sidders, marketing director for Fleet Farm out of Appleton.
“I’ve got nothing on my end,” he said. “I’m not aware that’s even being contemplated.”
Word about a new Fleet Farm dates to 2004 when Fleet Farm announced it was going to build ‘the largest store in the state’ on a 30-acre parcel along Highway 33 and County Highway Z. The Mills brothers also acquired 40 adjacent acres and plans were on track for a 274,000-square-foot store. Over the next 11 years, nothing was built.
In January 2016, the Mills family sold its business to New York-based investment firm KKR.
In the first quarter of the year, KKR met with store managers. This is the message passed along, “We anticipate investing significantly in the business adding infrastructure, stores and local jobs,” said Nate Taylor with the retail portion of KKR.
Local employees found the news encouraging and also thought it meant a new Fleet Farm in West Bend. Sidders said the desired growth for the organization may not mean exactly what West Bend was hoping for.
“For us to move more quickly as an organization that may have been misconstrued by some employees that long-rumored activities may be coming to fruition but in no way shape or form has any of that been discussed or decided to my knowledge,” Sidders said.